MANY TALENTS: Allan Stirling as a young man. Though born in Toowoomba he spent much of his adult life on the Bunya Mountains.
MANY TALENTS: Allan Stirling as a young man. Though born in Toowoomba he spent much of his adult life on the Bunya Mountains.

Allan was a true local larrikin

THE old man sat on the hillside watching the stockmen muster and yard his cattle.

A few years back he would have been riding with them but a fall and a broken hip ended that pleasure.

Now he has time to remember the early years when he first came to the Bunyas.

The hill where he was sitting was then covered with dense rainforest.

Now it is open slopes covered by lush kikuyu grass.

Allan Stirling had put in half of a lifetime on or around the mountains.

His thoughts went back even before that time, to the years when he was a boy growing up in Toowoomba before the end of the 19th century.

His father had come from England and it was in Toowoomba where he met Annie Bain.

They raised a family of three.

Allan was the youngest being born on Christmas Day, 1886.

His older siblings were Nance, 4, and Colin, 2.

Although the family had their own home, times were hard and Allan had to do jobs to make any pocket money.

His father had bought shares in the Queensland National Bank but lost most of his money in the 1890s when the bank went broke.

The boys were sent to North School and had to walk about three kilometres.

One day going to school, Allan and his brother Colin decided they could have a swim in the creek.

The owner of the paddock came along and saw the clothes on the bank.

He decided to teach the swimmer a lesson.

He picked up all their clothes and took them away with him.

This put the boys in an awkward position as they were completely naked.

However, they made their way undetected to their home and dressed in other clothes.

Even their parents didn't realise what was going on.

On the next day the paddock owner took their clothes up to the school in a bid to find out who they belonged to.

He gave them to the school master but no one would admit to ownership, so they were put into a cupboard.

While he was away during lunchtime the clothes found their way back to the rightful owners who were quite annoyed at the mean trick played on them.

It never was discovered who had been swimming in the creek.

Young Allan got a job delivering bread for Doughy, the local baker.

He earned his money as the baker who took bread around in a horse and cart, gave him the responsibility of delivering to those homes that were up on the hills.

Allan's dad had some casks of homemade wine under their house he had told Doughy about it and the baker immediately wanted to buy a bottle.

Allan recalled: "I broached one of the casks and sold him a bottle for a shilling.

"He drank it on his rounds with devastating results.

"I had to deliver all the bread that day as he went to sleep on top of the cart.”

He delivered the baker back to his bakehouse and decided there and then never again to act as an unlicensed victualler.

It was the hardest shilling he had ever earned

At the turn of the century, his brother Colin was 15 and had found a job in the bank but didn't like it and with another mate of his said they were going to travel the world.

They went to Brisbane and lived rough for a while.

Men were enlisting to go over to the African War.

Colin was accepted but his mate was rejected.

Allan and his mother went to Brisbane to see his brother off during March.

By August they got word he was killed at the age of 16.

Allan Stirling secured his first worthwhile job at the Silverwood Dairy Factory and as a sideline, he and several mates went wallaby hunting.

The marsupials were large numbers and considered a pest.

There was a bounty of four pence for a scalp and they could get eight pence for the pelt.

He found he was making more out of wallaby shooting than from his job.

For a few years he worked at his jobs and despatched a lot of wallabies.

He began thinking about a world tour and wanted to attend an exposition in Dublin but things didn't quite work out the way he planned.


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